Richard: “You are nothing but a good for nothing wife and mother, how could you just be coming back from Heaven knows where it is you are coming from? Your son has not eaten since morning, are you daft?”
Rebecca: “Let me hear you say it again moron” she said tilting her head to one side pretending to want to hear him better. “Who on earth said a man cannot enter inside the kitchen to prepare food for his starving son? I told you I was going for The Union of Chartered Accountants Meeting and as you well know, I am the Chairlady for the union; shouldn’t your brain have told you I might come back late to prepare lunch?”
Richard: “Chairlady who cannot even take care of her little son, how can you take care of the needs of all those grownup women in your so-called union? Women sure are daft, why elect a lazy thing like you as a chairlady?”
Rebecca: “Moron… What do you know? All you want is to have your stomach filled, since you cared that much about Sammy and you are the hardworking one here, I am asking again, why didn’t you enter the kitchen?”
Richard: “Don’t you dare call me a moron again…Do you understand?” he approached her menacingly.
He watched and listened as they raged on and on. His young mind could not comprehend how or why everything suddenly changed for his parents. He could remember the way they were before, amiable and full of love for each other that even he admired and envied them. They forgave each other easily and thought up excuses for the other’s misgivings. He thought it would last forever, he thought couples were meant to remain like that forever. But there they were, almost always on each other’s necks. Bickering over little things which were not worth bickering over. He bled emotionally for his parents’ fractured link. He just didn’t know how he could fill the void, or the gulf that laid majestically between them which threatened to swallow them all up.
Richard and his wife Rebecca were the envy of whoever came in contact with them as a couple. The love they shared was out of the ordinary, theirs was indeed a love marriage; the type Indians call Rabne bana di Jodi [God made couple]. Their first and only child Sammy was only six years old when things started falling apart for their marriage. Of course they were still successful as chartered accountants but along the way, they seemed to have lost what kept their marriage together. That Saturday evening, without minding that their son watched them from where he sat kept lashing at each other.
Rebecca: “Someone’s feathers are being ruffled at last. Dear man, come and demonstrate how powerful you are in the presence of your son on his mother. Let the tell-tale of your machoism decorate and adorn my beautiful neck and face. Your son will grow up remembering how beautiful they were on me” She wasn’t backing off, she was prepared for the worst. The elegant mound on her chest fell and rose intermittently.
Richard: “I can’t believe this. I just can’t imagine how much you’ve changed over the years, it is so surprising how you’ve decided to shirk your responsibilities as a wife and mother in the home” he said frustrated.
Rebecca: “Responsibility? Did you just say responsibility? Don’t I bear yours in this home? Or whose responsibility do you think it is to put food on the table for the family? Shall I quit my job and become a full house wife then? Or what exactly do you want from me? I really can’t do this anymore” she burst into tears and took some steps back throwing her arms in the air in resignation.
Sammy sat at a far corner of the sitting room, watching as they bartered each other with words, he had witnessed their fights get out of proportion several times and so that day, he prayed silently in his heart that his dad would not lose his cool. That he wouldn’t start throwing blows at his mum. He kept praying until his mum walked over to him with a forced smile.
Rebecca: “Baby…” she began, squatting down in front of him. “Were you very hungry today?” she asked fondly Smoothening his thick and dark eyebrows, then the tiny bits of curly hair that lined the sides of his handsome face.
Sammy: “No mummy! I am not hungry at all, please don’t fight daddy” he replied shaking his little head worriedly.
Rebecca: “Don’t you lie to me baby boy, I know you were very hungry and I am very very very sorry my dear, something came up at the meeting” she said apologetically.
Sammy: “it’s okay mum, what matters is you not fighting dad, I hate it when you two fight. Promise me you will not fight him again, forgive daddy please?”
Rebecca: “You are still too young to be talking about stuffs like this Sammy, I cannot promise you that because your daddy is headstrong, he keeps making us fight”
Sammy: “What is the meaning of headstrong mummy? Is his head strong? Don’t you like his head?” he asked gloomily.
Rebecca: “You are so innocent my boy and adorable but promise me something?”
Sammy: “I will promise you anything as long as you will no longer fight daddy. I will even be good, wake up on time to prepare for school, I will do my assignments early and brush my teeth before I sleep everyday” he said livening up.
Rebecca: “My baby is growing so fast” she said raking her fingers through his afro styled hair. “Promise me that no matter what a woman does to you, you will never lay a finger on her?”
Sammy: “That is simple mum, I remember everything you do tell me: any man who lays a hand on his woman is not a real man, women are like eggs and so should be pampered, if not, they might break and get wasted. Life is not a bed of roses and so things might go wrong at some point, despite that I cannot give up, I must keep surviving” he finished happily.
Rebecca: “I said it! How can you be so intelligent? You even remember them exactly the way I said them? Give me five” she said lifting her right palm up for a high five while he reciprocated the gesture.
Sammy: “It’s very simple mum” he said proudly, apparently proud of his achievement forgetting all about the fight.
Rebecca: “Now let’s go and prepare something for our little genius, toast bread will do right? Your favorite?”
She said leading him by the hand to their well-equipped, neat and spacious kitchen which had white floral tiles decorating it from walls to walls.
Richard entered into the kitchen furiously and snatched his sons hand away from her grip.
Rebecca: “What do you think you are doing?” she asked taken-aback by this sudden outburst.
Richard: “Making sure you aren’t poisoning my son’s mind against me” he snapped and dragged Sammy out of the kitchen to the amazement of his mother.
Sammy: “Dad where are we going to? I was just going to help mum make toast bread” he was apparently displeased with his dad’s action.
Richard: “Don’t mind her my son, we are going to get a bite at Mr. Biggs. You love fried rice right? I will get plenty fried rice for you” he said as he stooped down so he could be at eye level with him,
Sammy: “But mum is…”
Richard: “Hey boy! Stop whining and just do whatever I ask you to do. Stop acting like a sissy and be a man, in this life you have to be strong and cunny otherwise you will suffer in the hands of a woman the way I am suffering now” he said cutting him short sharply. Sammy did not respond so he continued “my dear son, there is no place for soft men in this world, you will get cheated and trampled upon while you keep wallowing in the mud. No matter what you have to take the bulls by the horns and push it back. No one born of a woman should cheat you and get away with it, do you understand?”
Sammy: “Yes dad, but mum said I should never hit anyone weaker than I am especially women” he said looking up defiantly at his dad.
Richard: “Forget what your mum said, she is giving you the advice she should be giving a girl. She wants you to be getting disrespected the way she is disrespecting me now. Do you really want that? Will you listen to a man or a woman?” he asked holding his two shoulders
Sammy: “Uhn! No dad” he felt his dad’s gaze tearing his soul violently apart and unraveling all the feelings he had stacked away somewhere he thought was safe from the world’s scrutiny. His dad stood up at last and he felt a wave of relief sweep over him in soothing currents.
His dad drove slowly to the Mr. Biggs down Ibadan Street in Lagos Mainland where they resided at. He was quite relieved to find that the eatery was not as crowded as it used to be. He ordered for a plate of fried rice, chicken and moin moin for each of them. As they devoured their meal silently, the door of the eatery swung violently open, two soldiers led the way while a woman whose face Richard could not see properly trailed behind them, pointing towards where he and Sammy sat at a booth at the far corner of the eatery.
Rebecca: “There is the bastard…” she said appearing fully at the forefront of the whole scenario pointing at her mystified husband.
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